by Erica Ly


The soundtrack of fall: leaves crunching, the downpour of rain drops on the sidewalk, oh, and coughing – a lot of it. If you have had class in any room on campus (especially larger sized lecture halls like Con Hall where echoes are a highlight), you are no stranger to the distinct sounds of coughing and sneezing that compete for your attention on the actual lecture.

It isn’t even flu season yet, so what’s the deal? For one, the weather isn’t exactly helping. A 27°C sunny day that leads into a -1°C night, followed by a 2°C foggy day and an 18°C downpour in the afternoon?  For residents and commuters alike, no one knows what to wear to class in the morning. Umbrella? Sunglasses? Add to that concoction the sleepless nights spent studying, and that one person who starts coughing in class… Waking up with an uncomfortable feeling in your throat is the strongest first sign.


Since you can’t exactly lock yourself in your room and wait out the storm of sicknesses, here are some tips to keep your immune system up and at your defence. This is not a magical remedy to make you invincible to viruses – just take these tips as a reminder for things you should be looking after every day.


1. If you’re walking by someone who’s coughing/sneezing – breathe out.

A tactic recommended by Stafford Broumand, MD: if you cross paths with someone heavily coughing or sneezing in your direction, just breathe out. Slowly and calmly breathe out until you are about 6 to 10 feet away from them. This will prevent you from inhaling the air they just expelled.

This isn’t a substitute for some more direct methods on this list, but more like a last-ditch effort that you can do anywhere if the need arises.


2. You’ve paid for it, so go to the gym.


Goldring Centre, U of T

Goldring Centre
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Varsity Centre, U of T

Varsity Centre
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50m pool, U of T Athletic Centre

Athletic Centre 50m Pool
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U of T Back Campus

Back Campus Fields
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Quick links to the facilities
Goldring Centre Varsity Centre Athletic Centre Back Campus Fields

Whether you feel most relaxed and at your best when you are lifting or doing your usual rounds of Pilates and meditation, exercise is essential to fending off germs that make you sick. When your immune system is out of shape, you will be too. Since U of T provides great athletic facilities with your tuition (that you’ve already paid for), why not take advantage of them?

In state-of-the-art sports centres like these that allow you to do anything from skating to swimming to running, get going and sweat the toxins out today!

(Pro-Tip No-Brainer: That being said, if the mats look sweaty or the weights seem greasy – wipe them down before you use them!)


3. Go to sleep. No Netflix binge session is worth it.

It’s no new discovery that sleep deprivation weakens your immune system and cause your stress levels to rise, making you more susceptible to catching sicknesses. We seriously do need seven to eight hours of sleep to “stimulate an immune response from our ‘natural killer cells’,” according to David Katz, MD and founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. So, close that laptop and hit the bed. Your morning self will thank you for it.

Alternatively, if you only absolutely have to: for emergency last minute all-nighter locations at U of T – I did the research so you don’t have to waste your time endlessly Googling for it.


4. The easiest thing you can do – drink water. Lots of it.

Eight glasses a day is the go-to rule, but there’s a more reasonable way to put it – “If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated”.


5. Drop the pizza and pick up an apple (or a juice blend) instead. (Tea is good too!)

Living away from home means that you have probably replaced mom’s home-cooked meals with fast food from whatever food truck is outside Sidney Smith. Regardless of how good the poutine is, or how cheap and filling a hot dog is, get that mix of fruits and vegetables. An apple in the morning, a cup of tea in the afternoon, or creating a blend of your own at Booster Juice to make things easier, that is one successful toxin flush.


6. Walking by a washroom? Wash your hands.

If you’ve touched the railing that someone just sneezed on and proceeded to touch your own face, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel the best waking up. Before you make the mistake of introducing unnecessary germs into your body, get used to washing your hands regularly. Better safe than sorry.


7. While you’re at it – wipe that phone.

You pass it to your classmate for them to type in their number, place it on the table during class, hold it with the hand you just used to open the door – but you wouldn’t put someone’s used tissue on your face, and your phone is really no different. If a sanitizing wipe is too much to ask for, just get a clean tissue and wipe that screen before using it.

This may seem excessive and “germophobic”, but take it from someone who has been coughing and sneezing in every lecture for the past week. If I could turn back the clock and have known about these tips, in all likelihood I wouldn’t be sick during midterms right now.

Some of us have simpler problems… ahem, Emily. (The Devil Wears Prada)
(Image source)


Do you have any other tips on how to hold sickness at bay? Let me know!